Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Be more with less

Sometime back somehow I landed on a post at this blog, Be more with less, The post struck a chord with me and since then I’ve become a huge fan of this blog. Courtney’s writings always make so much sense and they’re always so new! Many a times with popular blogs that you read regularly, you tend to find that the author runs out of things to say and is simply trying to fill. I haven’t found that true with her, at least not till now. Initially I wanted to link a few posts of hers which I simply loved and then I realized that that list was growing and growing. So I figured I would instead mention her blog itself. If you’re a minimalist or want to be one, hop over to her blog and I’m sure you’ll get highly motivated!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oats Idli

Sounds weird doesn’t it?!?! It doesn’t taste weird, trust me! In fact it’s delicious and it is healthy! How many times have you heard delicious and healthy in the same sentence?!?! I found the recipe here.



  • Instant oats - 1 cup
  • Suji - 1/2 cup
  • Curd - 1/2 cup
  • Water - 3/4 or as required
  • Carrot - 1 medium sized grated
  • Mustard Seeds - 2tsp
  • Green chilli - 1 tsp finely chopped
  • Salt - to taste
  • Hing - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander leaves - 2 tsp finely chopped (I didn’t have these)
  • Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
  • Oil - to grease idli plates


  1. Dry roast oats for 3-4 minutes. Let it cool and then grind to a fine powder ( I used my coffee grinder to do the job).
  2. Dry roast rava for 3-4 mins.
  3. Heat a tsp of oil and add mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Then add green chillies and grated carrot. Saute till carrots are slightly cooked.
  4. Mix all the ingredients (except oil for greasing plates). If the batter is too thick, add a more water.
  5. Fill cooker about 1” with water. Heat to a rolling boil. Grease the idli plates.
  6. Spoon the batter into the plates. The idlis are going to fluff up so leave the idli cups half empty.
  7. Put the idli stand in the cooker (do not put a whistle). Steam for 15 minutes.
  8. To remove the idlis from the idli plate, use a spoon dipped in cold water. I’ve found that it works the best for me.


  • If the idlis are hard, it’s quite possible that the batter was thick. The batter should not be running consistency but it shouldn’t be too thick either.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Potato Leek Casserole

Since we subscribed to the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) , we’ve been inundated with new and never-eaten-before vegetables. Well not that the CSA forces that on us, we can pick what we want but we always feel like getting new vegetables to break the ennui resulting from the same-old-veggies! So one time we got leeks. Now let me tell you  there was a time when I wasn’t sure that leeks were vegetables!

Thus began my search for a recipe that uses leeks as the primary vegetable. My favorite source is allrecipes.com but sometimes I like to search foodgawker too – it’s a feast for the eyes! And it’s the last site you should go to if you’re hungry! Anyways, I found this Cheesy Potato Leek Casserole through foodgawker and I must say that we absolutely loved it! Here’s a poor photo of it – unfortunately I couldn’t grab a photo when it came right from the oven. Our tummies beckoned it more than the camera.


Well you must be thinking being half eaten is not the only problem with the photo Smile There’s poor lighting, bad background and so on and so forth. However I though no photo is better than a not-so-good photo!

I modified the ingredients a little bit based on what I had at home and would suggest the same to all. There’s no need to stick to the veggies listed here – feel free to substitute them with what you like and what you have. Having said that I’m not sure how it’ll turn out with veggies that contain a lot of water like tomato, zucchini, etc.

Here’s what I used:

  • 4 leeks
  • 1 onion
  • 1-2 big potato
  • 3-4 fresno peppers (or any other mild pepper)
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 oz cream cheese (= 2 mini tubs of cream cheese)
  • some leftover heavy cream (around 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozarella
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

To cook:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. For the veggies:
    • Potato – peel and slice thinly about 1/8 inch
    • Peppers, Leeks and onion – chop them
    • Carrot – grate it.
  3. Stir fry all veggies except potato.
  4. Soften the cream cheese by microwaving it and then whisk it a little.
  5. Add the cream cheese and the heavy cream to the veggies and mix well. No need to heat them together.
  6. Grease a 8” X 8” baking dish.
  7. Line it with potatoes and then spread the veggie mixture on top of it. Spread the bread crumbs and the mozzarella cheese on top.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Winter/Fall vegetable gardening

Back in June, we’d planted a few vegetables. Except for the zucchini and eggplant, all did well. We didn’t get a bumper crop of tomatoes thanks to the lack of heat in northwest. I’m so glad we didn’t plant any peppers! However to compensate we did get an Indian summer which turned a few our tomatoes bright red. Here’s a look:


All the tomatoes we got were from the hybrid plant, didn’t get any from the heirloom variety. If you compare the strawberry plant from this post, you can see how much it’s loving it’s new location! We found that it too like most of the plants loves sunlight.

Motivated by our summer trysts, we planted some fall/winter veggies:


Yep – that’s the zucchini plant at the very back. It grew pretty well but unfortunately some animal would eat away all the baby zucchinis. Ok so we’ve some cauliflower in the front, then a row of cabbage on the right, behind the cauliflowers are come herbs and you can see some starters around which weren’t planted then. This photos was taken when we just planted these veggies and I can tell you they’ve grown – like really grown! So let me snap a photo of them soon to show you how well they’re doing!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Strawberry Ice cream


As a child it always fascinated me that some people on this earth could make ice cream at home – the kind that you get at stores! It was like a dream come true! That fascination wore off a little when I came to US and I saw that you could buy ice cream in “tubs” and they were so economical!! However when I started looking at the list of ingredients I put an ice cream maker on my wish list so that I could make pure and natural ice cream! My initial thought was to purchase a used one as I wasn’t sure how long my fad is going to last. However that wasn’t God’s intention. He intervened in the form of a costco coupon which made a brand new IC maker cheaper than a used one. So my “dream” came true and we brought home a glossy red Cuisinart ice cream maker! Enough with the stories let me get down to what I did with this beauty!

My first attempt was a peach frozen yogurt – though tasty it was a little icy for a frozen yogurt. Second was a mango tango sorbet – I simply churned some Naked mango smoothie. It was quite tasty considering how healthy it was; but I wasn’t there yet. I wanted to make some “real” ice cream. So I hunted and found this Eggless strawberry ice cream recipe. The ice cream was AWESOME! It brought back childhood memories. It was just like the Amul ice cream we used to have in India (except mine had real fruits Smile)! That was the first time I realized the difference between the ice cream in US and India. In my research for an ice cream recipe I’d found that ice creams here were more custard-like and in most cases had egg; they were dense. Indian ice cream is more creamy and light (I don’t think there’s anything good or bad with either – just that they’re different). That’s exactly what my home-made ice cream tasted like – creamy and fluffy! Eureka!

I halved the recipe to fit in my ice cream maker. Since I didn’t have whole milk as well as coloring and I forgot to put salt, these are the ingredients from the recipe that I ended up using:

  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cups mashed pureed fresh strawberries – I pureed the strawberries because I didn’t want big chunks. I left some tiny little chunks while pureeing.
  • 1-2 tsp honey – I’d read that honey prevents crystallization. Did it really? I don’t know but since my ice cream turned out perfect I’m not making it without honey!

To make ice cream:

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients. Prepare the ice cream in your machine per manufacturer’s direction. In my machine, I’d to switch on the machine and pour the mixture through the opening. I believe in churning a little more so I timed it for 30 minutes; and off I went to do my chores. When I came back, the machine was almost overflowing. Thankfully the batter was all frozen otherwise I would’ve had a mess.

Do you see the rose pink color of the ice cream? Pureeing the strawberries gave that. I didn’t use any coloring!

I think this is a great basic recipe and I’m going to try it out with different fruits.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tailored expectations

“The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor; he took my measurement anew every time he saw me, while all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me” – George Bernard Shaw

This was the quote on my calendar (I absolutely dig that calendar, it’s called Chicken Soup for the Soul calendar) last month – and I quite liked it. Very thought provoking.

Monday, August 29, 2011

We all need The Seam Ripper!

The other day I was sewing something (yes I sew and if you would like a peek into my sewing adventures then check them out here) and I accidentally made a wrong stitch. Well it often happens, this wasn’t the first time; but it sure was the first philosophical seam ripping time! You see when I was ripping the seam, I thought to myself that it took me just a few seconds to make a wrong seam but almost 15 minutes to rip it off and I realized that draw an analogy to so many situations in life. It’s so easy to gain weight but so hard to lose it. It’s easy to adopt bad habits but so hard to let them go. And so many more. Don’t you think so?

So we all need The Seam Ripper Of Life that makes it all easy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vegetable garden

Alert – this is a photo heavy post!

Two weeks back we had a weekend which seemed to herald that summer is here! Post that I think the clouds scared away the sun so much so that it’s only been a courteous visitor since! Not that I’m complaining – I like this perfect blend of cool temperature and light sun. I like it even more when I read about heat waves across the country! Anyways, coming back to what I was saying was the hot weekend inspired us to build our vegetable garden. So off we went to garden and nursery stores to get our stock. The good thing is we already had the pots and soil from our previous endeavors. So we just had to get the plants/starters. Here’s what we ended up with:

Petunia and geraniums

White Petunia and pink geranium – ok wrong start those are not veggies!


Basil (on the left) and mint (on the right). Those are big yogurt containers. My always-ready-to-help husband drilled some holes into them Smile. They now sit on my kitchen window sill. 




See that label – it says its an eggplant plant. Where’s the plant? – you ask me. Well the rabbit ate it away when the plant was only 3-4 days old!


Tomatoes. Heirloom tomato on the left and hybrid on the right. Can you see the difference in their size? The hybrid is twice the size of heirloom plant.


The strawberry plant. I actually planted this last fall with little hope that it’s going to bloom. Then towards the beginning of spring I saw fresh new leaves coming up and it made me so happy! Here are close-ups of the newborn fruits



Given that we’re not getting much sun these days I’m not sure whether these plants will be able to flourish, whether we’ll be able to eat red ripe juicy strawberries off of our garden. Even if they did get enough sun, there’s always the peril of rabbits and squirrels. If these poor little things are able to survive all these hurdles and make it to my kitchen – that would be the day!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pecan Coffee cake

This is the first time I made a coffee cake. Over here a coffee cake is a cake that you eat with your coffee and not one that has coffee in it! It was amazingly delicious! Not only did my DH loved it but I gave it to my neighbors and they loved it too! It was soft, slightly moist and just perfectly sweet! The pecan and sugar topping added the right crunch. The original recipe is from allrecipes.com.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used light brown sugar since that’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 9x13 inch pan with aluminum foil, and lightly grease with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sour cream, then beat in sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. By hand, fold in the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Spread batter into prepared pan.
    3. To make the Pecan Topping: In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over cake batter in pan.
    4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, and remove foil.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New beginnings

Spring is here and gone (not by the temperatures but by the almanac!) and I finally got a chance to post some beautiful photos of how nature works. It surprises me to see that trees that were skeletons of branch and trunk are now covered with lush green leaves! If you looked at the leaves themselves, they were so tiny and initially the tree looked bare; but now it looks so full. So rich. Ground that had nothing, had tulips and daffodils sprouting from it. The daffodils are gone now and their stems/leaves would also disappear soon. Yet they would appear again from nowhere next year. The magic of nature mesmerizes me!

As you can see the tree below just started having leaves.


This is a different tree but of the same type as above. However due to it’s advantageous location it started blooming before the other one. So you can see how the above tree would look in a few days. If only I had a picture of how it looks today (note to self – take a picture of the tree tomorrow!)


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Masala bun

My DH would often remember khara buns from Bangalore/Mysore. I’m not too familiar with them and when I saw these I thought these are the khara buns. Khara meaning hot, could also mean “masala” according to me Smile. So I set off to make these. Turns out these are not khara buns, nonetheless they were well received in my house. So mission accomplished!

I too liked them and I think they’re especially good as to-go food. They’ve a yummy potato filling!


To make the buns:


  • 1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup water (add if more needed)
  • 3/4 tblsp Active dry yeast
  • 1 tblsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 3 tblsp Olive oil
  • Chilli powder
  • Chopped coriander

For the filling:

  • 3-4 Boiled potatoes (cubed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp amchur (or mango powder)
  • 3 tsp oil


  1. Warm the milk,add sugar to it and mix well. Add the yeast to it and mix well. Keep aside.
  2. Take flour and make a hole,add water,olive oil,salt in it and the yeast completely dissolved in the milk. Add the chopped coriander and chilli powder.
  3. Mix and make a smooth dough,keep in a warm place covered with a cling wrap for an hour.
  4. Meanwhile make the filling. For the filling:
    1. Heat the oil and saute the onions till golden brown.
    2. Add turmeric, chilli powder and fry for a 1 minute.
    3. Add potatoes and mix. Add the amchur.
    4. Mix well and if required mash the potatoes. That makes it easy to fill the buns.
  5. After an hour, the dough must’ve risen. Make 6 equal balls from it.
  6. Flatten the balls and take a tablespoon or so of the filling and then wrap it in the dough.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit and let the stuffed buns rise in the meantime.
  8. After the oven has preheated, bake the buns for 17-20 minutes.
  9. Delicious buns are ready!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cutting for stone

Author: Abraham Varghese

The story starts off in the most morbid and dreary manner you can imagine. So much so that at one point I thought of not pursuing it but something kept propelling me. And for the good! It turned out to be very engrossing!

An Indian nun falls in love with a British doctor in Addis Ababa resulting into two twins. The mother dies during delivery and the father of the twins is distraught and flees. So they’re adopted by a doctor colleague and the story is narrated by one of the them. I think the central theme of the story is “love”. Every turn in the novel is because one character loved another – it could be motherly love, fatherly, brotherly or of young hearts. The twins grow together and apart; but both grow up to be doctors. In different parts of the world. The narrator in US and his brother in Egypt. The twists and turns in the story keep you deeply seated. I think the story is very well written – I could almost feel myself with the characters in the novel. Just bear with the first few pages and you won’t regret!

Bottom line: A wonderful novel!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Letter from Sendai, Japan

I came across this letter through another blogger and felt so pleased after reading it. It was such a big coincidence that before reading this letter I was reading another blog that had outlined qualities of the Japanese, exhibited in this massive natural calamity. Both the posts had the same sentiments – there was no chaos, people were helping each other, people were sharing what they had – there was no drama. Both left me in awe of the Japanese! I bow to them, in all honesty!

When Katrina happened, we saw videos and photos of how the gas stations and stores were looted. It shocked me. In this country where we had so many systems working based on “honor”, how could people do that. This is the country I realized that honesty could be common to common people. So the looting videos led to me believe that in the face of disaster, every human behaves the same way. He can only think of one’s survival.

Until I read the above two posts.

They totally changed my view.

Not only are the Japanese technologically most advanced, they’re so behaviorally too. We must all, this whole world minus Japan, study them to learn how they got be so.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Girl who played with fire

Author: Steig Larsson

This is the second book in the trilogy by Steig Larsson. I read the first book , The girl with the dragon tattoo, quite some time back and absolutely loved it. I can safely say the same for this one too. The author knows how to put the right mix of everything from murder to romance.

The story is so engrossing – I read half the book in two weeks and the other half in a day SmileI had to because it was time to return the book and I couldn’t do that without finishing it. It was no less feat as the book has 500+ pages!

Lisbeth Salander, the protagonist is shown to be a quirky girl and social handicaps. However she’s a computer geek and considered to be the best researcher by all her employers when it comes to digging out a person’s life story. Continuing from the earlier story, she’s in the possession of great amount of wealth and sets out to use that for her enjoyment by buying luxurious apartments and other things. Her previous employer, Mikael Blomkvist, in the meantime seems to have stumbled across a freelance writer who’s researching on sex trade in Sweden. He has all facts and figures in place and the day that gets published it’ll be exposing numerous public figures (no surprises there!). Mikael and his company agree to publish this book and work with the journalist to make the book a reality. However before it can be done the journalist and his wife is murdered and the prime suspect seems to be Lisbeth! What follows is an extremely nail-biting search for the truth!

Bottomline: must read!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Live To Tell

Author: Lisa Gardner

It’s been a long time since I’d laid hands on a good detective novel. In fact I’d no knowledge about which are the good detective novel authors these days. So when I read great reviews about this novel, I decided to try it out. I was a little disappointed; maybe my expectations were very high. Somehow it didn’t feel like a detective novel – one where I would be taking turns to point my finger at every other character because the author has me convinced that all the evidence says so.

The story focuses around mentally disturbed or rather I should say traumatized children. They’re children who’re so violent that they can even kill somebody. That was new to me and kind of hard to digest. It’s difficult to portray kids who go around killing people. Anyway the story is about three women – one who’s such a mentally disturbed child, another who works as a nurse in a hospital for such kids and third who’s a detective. It starts with the murder of a family of five. At the face of it, it looks like the father killed everybody including himself. On investigation it is learned that one of the children was mentally disturbed and was sighted killing squirrels, etc. So he’s a potential suspect. Then another family of 6 in a completely unrelated neighborhood is killed. The crime scene has lots of similarities. Again, a little girl in the family was mentally ill. To add to it, the nurse also has a similar history. Twenty five years ago her family was killed in a similar manner except that she was spared. Is she a victim or a suspect?

It was interesting but not as engrossing as I’d expected.

Bottom line: a good read.

So sweet!

You must see this video, it’s so cute! It’s about how a baby got scared by his mommy’s nose.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Who can read/listen to Gita

First of all, let me give you the good news that I’ve finally completed my first reading of Bhagavad Gita!! It’s been a really long journey – around 6-7 years. Yes it surprises me too that it took me so long; but what makes me happy is that I’d the perseverance to pursue it. It has so much of knowledge that with every chapter I was more and more engrossed. I never realized that I’d been reading it for years! People always think that scriptures are for your old age but I don’t think that applies to Bhagavad Gita. I see so many blogs/books these days on the art of living, simplifying your life and other topics to that tune. When I read them I realize that I’d read all the substance is what I’ve already read in Gita. That’s when I realized that the knowledge contained in Gita is ageless – it’ll always be applicable irrespective of the changes in this world. Maybe that’s what spiritual really means. And the sooner you read and attempt to understand it, the more appreciative, happy and understanding you would be in life.

This shloka is very interesting. I never thought God would ever say that it’s not good to share Gita with anybody. I would’ve thought that it’s good for one and all. However that’s not true. And rightly so.

He says that one should not share the secrets of Gita with a person who has given up on his duties, is deep into the temptations of this world and has sacrificed his religion in pursuit of those temptations. Such a person is so mesmerized by worldly temptations that he wouldn’t be able to absorb the essence and influence of God. Thus it would be a disrespect to the scripture as well as God.

It should also not be shared with anyone who doesn’t believe in God. One who doesn’t have faith and love for God; and doesn’t worship Him; who thinks that he is everything; he who is an atheist. Such a person wouldn’t be able to understand what feelings portrayed by the scripture.

It should not be shared with anyone who doesn’t want to listen to it. He will get bored listening to it and will not be able to absorb it.

It should not be shared with one who maligns God. He would only find more reasons to malign Him. Hence would increase his sins.

Thus, if a person doesn’t have any of the above qualities then he deserves to read/listen to Gita.

If a person doesn’t follow his religion but has none of the other three qualities then he too is deserving.

If a person doesn’t follow his religion and doesn’t believe in God but has a desire to learn Gita then he too is deserving.

However, if a person finds faults in God then irrespective of what other qualities he does/does not possess, he’s not deserving of Gita.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One Day

Author: David Nicholls

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book – it was always hard to put it down! After every page, I was eager to know what would happen next. It’s neither a murder mystery nor a suspense; it’s a romantic story. So what made me so curious? I guess the way the author spun the story.

A girl meets a boy and then they go their separate ways. Okay I did oversimplify the story Smile but that’s exactly what it is. Except that the girl loves the guy but is afraid to say so and the guy also loves the girl but lives in denial. So before every chapter you ask excitedly “are they going to be together now?”. Every chapter is the same day next year in their life and makes you want to know where did life take them the next year. And it’s not just 2-3 years it’s right from their college to their middle age.

On the surface this looks like an every day story but I think the author has done a wonderful job with his characters. They’re absolutely normal – there’s nothing heroic about them and maybe that’s why you sink in deeper into the story; you feel as if you’re there. He’s captured the emotions at every age so well that I think each one of us can identify with the characters at some stage or the other. The story is very well written.

Bottomline: An excellent read!

Monday, February 28, 2011

My lovely sunshine


One weekend I was able to take photo of sunrise from our window. The view was so captivating with the golden rays of sun peeking out from behind the mountains. It was simply beautiful! And that too from our window – I didn’t have to hike, trek or camp out! I don’t think my photo does much justice to the stunning view – given my limited photography skills Embarrassed smile

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here. Not that there wasn’t anything on my mind. In fact I think it’s the other way round. There are too many things and I don’t know where to start. There’s that book which I devoured. The recipe that I wanted to post and which was eaten away before it could be photographed (again!). The spiritual notes that are lingering in my mind. This and that. So now you know what to expect in the coming weeks Smile

Monday, January 24, 2011

Curious incident of the dog in the night time

Author: Mark Haddon

I simply loved reading this book! The book is narrated in first person by a child with special needs. The child is shown to be a genius – as they say that one God takes away one faculty he compensates it in another! One day he finds that his neighbor’s dog has been killed and he takes upon himself to find out who killed the dog. On the way he discovers some truths about his life. I wouldn’t be able to tell more about the story without giving some spoilers so I’ll stop here Smile

Why I Liked the book? Because while reading you can feel the characters. It felt as if the author was inside the mind of the child when he was writing the book. He has portrayed the behavioral disturbances of the child so well. It’s simply amazing! I would highly recommend this book to one and all!

Bottomline: Must read!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eggless Chocolate Cake

I made this cake late last year and never had the time to post it here. I decided “better late than never” especially because it’s one of the most delicious cakes and eggless at that! So I didn’t want to lose the recipe. By the time I decided to take a photo, the cake was over Smile. This recipe yields a moist, rich chocolate cake which can be eaten as it is and doesn’t require frosting or any other topping. Of course, if you wanted to you could add some. This cake came in most helpful during navratri, during which we don’t consume any eggs, when I wanted to satiate my desire for something chocolately! If you need more reasons to bake this cake, it’s a one pan cake! The original recipe is from King Arthur.

[Put picture here some day]


  • 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (3/4 ounce) cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vinegar (I skipped vinegar since I didn’t have it on hand)
  • 1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cold water (original recipe), coffee (next inspiration), milk (later inspiration), or 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup rum (latest inspiration)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Measure all the dry ingredients into an 8" or 9" round or square cake pan; if you use an 8" pan, make sure it's at least 2" deep. Blend the ingredients together thoroughly with a fork or whisk and scoop out three holes, or indentations.
  3. Pour the vanilla into the first hole, the vinegar into the second, and the vegetable oil into the third.
  4. Take the cup of cold liquid (water, coffee, milk, etc.) and pour it directly over everything in the pan. Note: If you've used espresso powder, adding coffee will make this a mocha cake. Stir all the ingredients together with your fork until they are well blended.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve right from the pan; warm from the oven, this Cake-Pan Cake is wonderful with a big glass of milk (skim, of course!) Yield: 12 to 16 servings.


  • I baked this cake in a separate pan and not the same one where I mixed the ingredients. If you want you could bake it in the same pan as suggested in the recipe.
  • I used cold water as the liquid. I plan to use coffee next time to see how it turns out.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Division of society

Growing up I’d often felt how unfair it was that the society in India was divided into classes; with the lower ones being treated condescendingly by the higher echelons. So while reading the Gita when I came upon the chapter that talks about class division it touched a nerve. It enlightened me on why it’s necessary and the way it is today is how the mankind evolved it. It was not designed by God to be this way.

We need brains to solve an issue, muscle power for protection, food and money to nourish the brains and body; and hard work to produce the food. Society is like our body. The brahmins are the brain of the body, kshatriyas the arms, vaishyas the thighs and shudras the feet. Thus each and every class is important for the smooth functioning of the society. They’ve all been born off the body of God and hence all are equal. There’s no question of one superseding the other.

Each class has it’s own qualities but these qualities are neither to be used for personal gains nor to rule over the other classes.

The position of the brahmin is the highest. He’s the one who makes the rules of the society. He’s the teacher and the enlightened one; but he’s not the one who earns money or punishes anyone. Nor does he indulge. Selfishness is completely absent from his life. He eats simple food and gains as well as disburses knowledge. He uses whatever the society gives him.

Kshatriya is the ruler – he punishes the sinner and rewards the Samaritan. It’s his duty to protect the society and religion. Even though he punishes, he is not the creator of the rules. He just follows the rules made by the brahmins. According to the rules, he collects the taxes from the public and spends it for public benefit.

Vaishya is the one who possesses money, farms and animals. He earns money and finds way to increase it. His life is made easy by the rule of the kshatriyas and the knowledge of the brahmins. He happily pays his taxes, serves the brahmins and donates clothes etc. to shudras.

Shudras by nature are more in number as compared to other classes. They’re more physically skilled than mentally. Hence they perform the physical work of the society. Just like the body can walk because of the feet, the society can function because of the physical work of the shudras. In return for his services, the vasihya gives him money, kshatriya protects his money and brahmin shows him the righteous way.

Hence each class has its own function. Just like a factory. A factory has workers, engineers and managers. They all have their work cut out for them based on their skills. If any one category stops working then the factory can’t do production. So they’re all equally important.

After reading this it made so much sense that our society was divided into classes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Make coffee through your tweets! Isn’t that cool?!?!?!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bye bye a happy year and welcome a happier year!

That does sound like an odd title, doesn’t it? Well I wanted to show my gratitude for the year that’s gone by and express my hope for the year that’s on the threshold. And with hope I’m reminded of a saying on my calendar this month, by Vaclav Havel

It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

Isn’t that  a beautiful quote? Anyway I digress. Come new year and we can see the word “resolutions” everywhere – on blogs, minds, conversations and what have you. I’m not much of a resolution person; there was a time when I would make resolutions very excitedly and lock them up until next year when it was time to make new ones. Then one year I felt bad when I realized that they didn’t mean much to me. So last year I made some goals for myself – primarily related to my hobby; I would take an account of how I was doing on them every month and now when I look back I think I “exceeded expectations” on my goals Smile(I must admit that it is so good to get that rating in some review Winking smile). So I think I’ll continue with that trend – make some goals for myself and take a checkpoint on my progress every month.

Coming back to the happy year gone by, this has been on my mind for quite some time and I think now is an appropriate time to do it. I would like to post my gratitude to God for His blessings in the year that was:

  • I’m grateful to Him for the wonderful jobs we have. In this economy when people are facing hard times I can’t thank him enough for blessing us with great jobs! I will not deny that there are moments when I feel “This is too boring!” or “How wonderful it would be if all I could do was stay at home”; but deep inside I am grateful to Him. Whatever I might whine about my job, there’s no denying that I feel very proud of it!
  • I’m grateful to Him for blessing me with a wonderful family. It feels good to know that there are so many people who care about you. Of course there are moments when you have a hard time with one more people in the family but that’s what a family is all about. You can fight all you want and still know that whatever happens they’ll always be there for you and you for them. And I know that’s the kind I have. With that I would also like to say that it’s OK to fight in a family. Many people have this notion that you have a “bad” family if you have people fighting. I don’t think so. It’s like the more you talk, the more there are chances of an argument. Sure you can avoid any arguments by not talking at all; but then that’s not a family.
  • I’m grateful to him for blessing me with the most beautiful home. Yes we bought our first home last year! It is a dream come true. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. My mom knows that I always wanted a home of my own since I was a kid. So the day we got the key to our very own house was one of the happiest days of my life! And as I always tell my DH it’s the best house in the whole wide world! Not that it has no blemishes but in the grand scheme of things they do not matter. It’s when I see a homeless that I realize how blessed I am to be able to come back to a warm home. That does not mean I’m underestimating my home in any sense – all I want to say if that first I would like to thank God for the fact that I have a house and then for the wonderful house.
  • I’m grateful to him for blessing me with me. We’re unable to appreciate what we have till we either lose it or see others around us who don’t have it. We take it for granted that we eyes to see the beautiful world, ears to hear the sweet sound of everyday life, legs to walk to the bus and hands to do the odd jobs around the house. Have you ever seen a handicapped person? Next time you’re feeling deprived, just think of one handicapped person you’d seen and put yourself in his/her shoes. I’m sure you’ll find your spirits lifted up!
  • I’m grateful to him that I could do not one, not two but three crafts fairs – the first time in my life! Having done them I know it’s not easy to do them and you need a lot of things to work for you!

You must be wondering why with every “up” I’d posted a “down”. I did that to let people know that my life also has its down moments and there might be many more that I’ve not listed here nor do I want to recall them.

  1. Because your life is as happy as you think it is.
  2. Because your life is as good as you think it is.
  3. Because your life is as blessed you think it is.

It’s all in the mind. I feel so good now, so blessed. How do you feel?